Popular Posts

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Auto enrollment - Does it affect me?

Are you aware of your compulsory employer obligations under Auto Enrolment?

 Auto enrolment is part of a series of workplace pension reforms aimed at encouraging employees to save more of their earnings for retirement.

It requires all employers, regardless of size, to contribute to pension schemes for their employees, and is a fantastic opportunity for companies to enhance their ability to attract and retain the best talent.

Any companies missing the deadline can be issued with a fixed fine of £400 plus uncapped daily fines! Are you ready?

You are invited to join one of our
FREE presentations that will examine your

employer duties and how to plan for them.

Tuesday 4th February 2014


Bishop’s Stortford Business Connections, Great Hadham Golf Club, Great Hadham Road, Much Hadham, Herts, SG10 6JE

To reserve your place please register as a visit at www.bsbc.org.uk

Wednesday 5th February 2014


Harlow Enterprise Hub, Kao Hockham

Building, Edinburgh Way, Harlow,

Essex, CM20 2NQ

To reserve your place please register online at https://aeharlow.eventbrite.co.uk

Wednesday 12th February 2014


St John’s Innovation Centre

Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WS

To reserve your place please register online at https://aecambridge.eventbrite.co.uk
Hosted by:
RHG are employee benefits specialists. For further information on their services visit

www.rhg.co.uk or call 0845 3081480.

Abco Payroll is a BACS approved payroll bureau focusing on payroll outsourcing for SMEs. For further information on their services visit

www.abco-payroll.co.uk or call 01279 504550.

The HR Specialists provide HR support covering the whole employment cycle to any size of business. For further information on their services visit

www.thehrspecialists.co.uk or call 01279 771064.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Simple documents for SME's

We have found at the HR Specialists that it is difficult to find time for all the additional administrative activities that are required when running a business. 

As an SME we are strong on our core activities it is all the associated stuff that gets in the way and that takes the time because we are not experts at tax, marketing, sales etc. We want to get on with our core activity which is HR and H&S.  We therefore, use a group of excellent colleagues from other businesses when it comes to the other stuff.

With that in mind at the HR Specialists we have developed a simple set of documents for our small or start up businesses to get them off the ground when it comes to dealing with employment matters. 

Through experience we have found that most small businesses get offered documents suited to larger companies and not relevant to their businesses. 

In the current climate SME businesses need HR support just as much as larger businesses, but it needs to be tailored to their needs and generally we find a pay as you go service is more suitable for the SME market.  Larger HR providers offer a long expensive contract for these services which is not necessary for small businesses. 

Simple, sensible and pragmatic thats the way we see things.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Settlement agreements/Protected conversations is this tinkering around the edges?

The Government is trying to make it easier for small employers, particularly, to have flexiblity in their workforce arrangements and not be burdened by costly legal bills.

However, at this stage there is a lot of consultation going on about how best that might be achieved without removing too many rights for employees.

We have already seen the change to unfair dismissal rights extended from one ot two years to allow employers more time to deal with employee issues.

Vince Cable says "Settlement agreements are smart, fair and pro-business reforms which deliver results for employees and employers. It empowers employers by enabling them to keep their workforce flexible and encouraging alternative ways of solving workplace problems rather than resorting to a tribunal.

Often small employers are not confident in dealing with difficult employee issues and these suggestions are aimed at making it easier for them not to fall fowl of the law.

Settlement agreements are meant to be a simplification of compromise agreements, with the Government possibly preparing a template of the agreements in the form of a letter that can be sent to employees. Allowing the conversations that take place around settlement agreements to be protected from disclosure if a case is taken to a tribunal by an employee.

There are still many unanswered questions which the consultation period may hopefully address.  At present compromise agreements require independent legal advise to be obtained before signing, is that going to change?

Even though employees can reject the agreements, will there be more pressure to sign under this new system?

We will have to wait until the results of the consultation in the summer for some of the answers to be provided.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Unfair dismissal timescales change 6th April 2012

Employees must have been with their employer for 1 year before they can claim unfair dismissal.  However, from 6th April 2012 it is to be raised to two years.  For those of us old enough to remember it used to be 2 years.

The new rules apply to those employees employed from the 6th April 2012 onwards and is not backdated for existing staff. 

These timescales do not apply to discrimination claims, so it will be interesting to see if more employees look for a discrimination angle.  If that is the case make sure you have kept good records of the reasons why performance was poor, the opportunities you gave the employee to improve and the consequences where clear if they did not meet the grade.  That way employees are clear about why they were dismissed and less likely to make up their own reasons for the dismissal.

Contractual arrangements and policies and procedures may refer to disapplying full disciplinary procedures for 1 year.  It will be interesting to see how this changes things going forward and whether employers revert to using the 2 year period.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Christmas parties the season is approaching!

Remember a work event is considered an extension of the working environment and employment legislation will still apply. Therefore, you have more responsibility than you might think even if you organise the event at the pub after work. 

You will often see the most senior person have one drink and then disappear, so they do not have to deal with issues later in the evening.  Employees will be relaxed when large measures of alcohol have been consumed that is when incidents will happen.

There are a number of issues you should consider and these may not just be the obvious ones.
  • Ensure employees understand that you want them to enjoy themselves but any activity that would not be acceptable at work would not be acceptable at the party.
  • That discipline and grievance, bullying and harassment and dignity at work policies will still apply to employees who overstep the mark.
  • Make sure there is food to soak up some of the alcohol and ensure there are soft drinks available.
  • It is also advisable to ensure there are responsible non drinkers who are taking people home or arrange taxi's or minibuses.
Have a great festive season.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Employed or self employed that is the question?

As we know the contract in itself may be an indicator but, just because there is a contract that describes an individual as an 'employee' or as 'self-employed' does not mean that it is necessarily the case.
Employment status can be most confusing to employers particularly when using consultants - are they self employed or workers? Some questions that we all ask in determining employment status are do they:
           regularly work for a single company or business
           have a contract which describes them as a 'consultant' or something similar
           provide specialist advice or assistance in connection with the operations of the business or specific projects
           provide services for a minimum number of hours/days each month/year
           report to the company's managers/directors, but are not under any direct supervision or control when working
           perform the work themselves and the company relies on their expertise
           submit invoices for work completed and are responsible for paying their own tax and National Insurance
           provide their own equipment
           often work from home or a private office, but go to the company's premises when necessary
However, the fact they are personally required to provide a personal service means that they are probably a worker. Their commitment to just your organisation means it is also unlikely that they are in business for themselves and so not self employed.

If the case ends in a tribunal we know the different factors will be looked at to determine the actual situation rather than the contract issued.  A lot of employers think whatever contract they have will protect them.

Normally if they are self-employed for tax purposes, they will be self-employed in relation to their employment rights.

However, if they are self-employed for tax purposes it will not prevent an Employment Tribunal from finding that they are an 'employee' or a 'worker' for employment law purposes. HM Revenue & Customs decisions are not binding on Employment Tribunals although employers think they are protected if they have a HM Revenue and Customs letter.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Bribery Act - Do small businesses understand it affects them too!

The Bribery Act will be introduced on the 1st July 2011.  The issue is do small owners and directors realise it applies to them and do they understand what bribery is?

A bribe is any gift, loan, fee or reward or other advantage to persuade someone to do something which is dishonest or illegal while carrying out the company’s business. 

Although this Act has been introduced to deal with corruption, it has very far reaching implications for all types of public and private organisations.  The Act creates specific offenes: offering, promising or giving a bribe; requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe.
If you run a small organisation then your policies and procedures will of course be different to that of large organisations and some procedures may not be applicable.  However this does not mean that no action is required.

Employers will not be able to rely on ignorance of their employees’ and, in some cases consultants and contractors’ actions.  The employer will be liable unless they can demonstrate appropriate steps were taken to protect against such actions.